What we’re reading: When modern life and history intersect

A few Medium stories you may have missed this week

Medium Staff
The Medium Blog
4 min readMay 5, 2023


Hey all,

I’ve been doing a deep dive into essays about heritage and how modern life is intersected and informed by the actions of your ancestors. Some of you are really good about researching and documenting your findings. Take professor and author Aimee Liu, for example. After she shared the history of her biracial dad’s work in old Hollywood films? I was hooked.

She then looked into her political rebel grandfather and penned this: “My grandfather Liu Chengyu was a scholar revolutionary bent on overthrowing China’s Qing (aka Ch’ing) Dynasty in the early 1900s. He was also a poet and author. Alas, in keeping with the custom of humility in Chinese culture, he wrote little directly about himself.”

It’s a fascinating story that includes a tale of revolution, some humor, plus hat tips to San Francisco’s Chinatown and the University of California at Berkeley. (And, if you are so inclined, it’s a perfect piece to supplement Medium’s reading list honoring Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage month in the United States.)

These historical crossroads often create wonderful essays.

Thanks for reading and thanks for writing,
Adrienne Gibbs
Director, Creator Growth @ Medium

P.S.: Some of the stories you wrote and sent to me for Star Wars Day are in the list below!

Your weekend reading list:

The Seductive, Science Fictional Power of Spreadsheets” by Cory Doctorow, essayist and author of ‘Red Team Blues’

Intuition can calcify, becoming a rigid set of rules that increasingly diverge from the best strategy. By contrast, spreadsheets yield a set of crisp, instantly tallied answers to any question you put to them. Change the input and watch as that change ripples through the whole system in an eyeblink.

Cory Doctorow, “The Seductive, Science Fictional Power of Spreadsheets

Give Rose Tico the ‘Star Wars’ Movie She Deserves” by Bernice P., culture writer, in Fanfare

Somebody needs to tell the story of the first Asian American to play a major character in the franchise.

The Mother of All Pivots” by Scott Galloway, author and professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business

Think Netflix’s shift from DVDs to streaming, Adobe’s move to subscription, or Amazon’s launch of AWS. Sounds easy, but real transitions require a staggering investment and a leap of faith that make shareholders queasy. And, most of the time, they don’t work.

Researchers at the VEB Elektronik Gera (East Germany, February 1984), via Jan Kammerath (“Boomer Developers: 10 Things I Learned From Them”)

Boomer Developers: 10 Lessons I Learned From Them” by Jan Kammerath, former chief technology officer

When you build new applications, look at what was done before. Evaluate the improvement in technology and learn from what was done before and how today’s technical capabilities can improve it.

How to Use Poetry to Live a Better, Saner, and Happier Life” by Dale Biron, poet, in Better Humans

Here are 39 life lessons I’ve gleaned, gathered, and learned in 26 years of reading, teaching, performing, and loving poetry. They are my best answer to why to drag poetry into every nook and cranny of our lives. That would include our lives at home, work, and any other place you can imagine.

The Skinny Girl Has Feelings Too” by Kimberly Fosu, author and spiritualist, in ZORA

I’m a strong believer that we go through certain things so others will never have to go through them. Maybe I went through what I went through to ensure that my daughter does not.

Kimberly Fosu and her daughter (then 5 years old), from “The Skinny Girl Has Feelings Too

May the Profits be With You: Unconventional Business Wisdom From an Unlikely Guru” by David Watson, business automation writer

Entrepreneurs can take a page out of Yoda’s book and embrace a life of continuous learning, treating every challenge, setback, and success as an opportunity for growth.

What have you been reading this week? Drop a line in the responses.

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What We’re Reading” is a weekly roundup of insightful stories and perspectives from across Medium. Browse previous editions here.